Group 11 and 10's talent-stacked roster of junior players might get a few more chances to hone their skills when play resumes in 2021.
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Following on from the success of last year's ad-hoc under 18s western competition, NSWRL has been exploring the idea of a pre-season competition focused on the region's junior sides.
The push has come about as a result of an effort to spread the junior competitions out and let the players compete in a longer season, according to Group 11 Chairman Bob Walsh.
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"It's something that NSWRL is trying to do in order to encourage our competitions to try and start a bit earlier in the season with some of the age groups," Walsh said.
"It would finish up before our competition started, it'll just give some of the younger players an opportunity to play a longer season than they'd normally experience."
The proposed competition would likely include under 21 and under 23 age groups, and would bear some similarities to the currently existing Western Women's Rugby League competition in terms of length and structure.
"It is similar to that, yes, and it's come about off the back of the success of the under 18s this year, that's what's really prompted it for us here in our region," Walsh said.
That under 18s competition called on teams from across group 10 and 11, and culminated with a clash between Dubbo CYMS and the Forbes Magpies that saw Forbes' front-man Jack Hartwig lift the trophy aloft in front of a hometown crowd.
While Walsh and other officials are encouraging clubs to explore the idea before any official decision is made, some have already indicated the structure wouldn't suit them.
"We're encouraging the clubs to look at it, some have indicated they're not interested across both group 10 and group 11, so it's still something that's very much up in the air, it all depends on how many they get to say yes," Walsh said.
"It's not a goer at the moment, but it's out there, we've got to put these things tot he clubs and see whether they accept it and run with or whether we're wasting our time."
While Walsh indicated the competition could potentially help shore up junior numbers across clubs that have struggled to field consistent teams in recent years, he said the commitee's current focus was on ensuring that Rugby League in the bush bounced back strong after the disappointment of 2020.
The under 18s and Western Women's Rugby League competitions were the only salves after Group 11 were unable to take to the field at all throughout the COVID-hit year, although events like the Tribal Championship in Dubbo provided an opportunity for familiar faces to stretch their legs.
"We're aiming for a big year after the disappointment of 2020, we're trying to make 2021 a very successful season and there's no reason we can't, we've got the NRL games in the region and that should be huge," Walsh said.
"Those games are going to be a huge plus for us in group 10 and group 11, we've got to build off that and deliver something special."
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